Vote NO on 1
Linda Perriello, former OneVirginia2021 chair and longtime board member, has decided to vote No on the proposed redistricting amendment. Read Linda's description of her decision.
Stop Gerrymandering and Vote NO on 1
We are asked to vote on a proposed redistricting amendment to the Constitution of Virginia on November 3rd. The Arlington Democrats urge you to vote NO on Amendment 1.
The question on the ballot reads as follows:
Question: Should the Constitution of Virginia be amended to establish a redistricting commission, consisting of eight members of the General Assembly and eight citizens of the Commonwealth, that is responsible for drawing the congressional and state legislative districts that will be subsequently voted on, but not changed by, the General Assembly and enacted without the Governor’s involvement and to give the responsibility of drawing districts to the Supreme Court of Virginia if the redistricting commission fails to draw districts or the General Assembly fails to enact districts by certain deadlines?
What's wrong with this proposal?
Adopting this amendment will not end gerrymandering. It does leave the Virginia Legislature in control of the redistricting process. All 16 members of the Amendment-enabled Redistricting Commission (8 General Assembly members and 8 citizens) will be selected from a list put forth by the Legislature’s party leaders. Any two legislator Commission members could paralyze the body’s work, ultimately throwing the mapmaking to the Supreme Court of Virginia (appointees of the Legislature), where, per the amendment and without transparent criteria, guidelines or public review, the Court would determine with finality the district boundaries.
A better approach
In 2019, Arlington Democrats called for independent, nonpartisan redistricting, a process Arlington Democrats still support. But the process proposed in the amendment is neither independent nor nonpartisan. The goal of nonpartisan redistricting is to draw boundaries in a way that allows voters to choose their legislators, whereas partisan redistricting often results in the opposite: legislators choosing their voters.
Defeating this amendment does mean that the General Assembly will be in charge of redistricting this year. However, the Democratic majorities of both houses demonstrated their on-going commitment to achieving a fair, transparent, non-partisan redistricting process during the 2020 legislative session. Without any Republican support, the Virginia General Assembly enacted, and the Governor signed, HB1255 and SB717, which include 9 criteria to govern redistricting. Those criteria prohibit political gerrymandering, ensure representation for racial and language minorities, and require contiguous, compact districts that preserve communities of interest.
Vote NO on 1: How we stop gerrymandering in 2021
If the amendment fails, these criteria will be used by the General Assembly to draw the new maps. If the amendment passes, HB1255 and SB717 do not bind the Virginia Supreme Court. Without these criteria, passing the amendment is likely to result in continued Incumbent Protection Gerrymandering.
Defeating this amendment means the General Assembly can start again and craft a constitutional amendment that will help us achieve a fair, independent, non-partisan redistricting process in Virginia. Arlington Democrats believe that Virginia can do better and urge a NO vote on Amendment 1.
Four Reasons We Urge a "No" Vote
1. Keep politicians out of redistricting! As proposed, the redistricting commission would continue to be dominated by the legislature’s party leaders who would negotiate as many favorable terms as they can persuade the other party to accept. However, what the Democratic Party of Virginia has endorsed, and what the voters of Virginia deserve, is an independent commission composed of ordinary citizens and not politicians.
2. This is not “better than nothing”! Two legislators on the commission could paralyze the body’s work, throwing final mapmaking to the Supreme Court of Virginia -- without criteria, without guidelines, without review. This is a fatal flaw.
3. We now have an anti-gerrymandering law! Signed by the Governor after adoption by the General Assembly on a party-line vote, this law, HB1255 and SB717, outlaws gerrymandering and binds our Legislature to criteria ensuring representation for racial and language minorities and communities of interest. Under the amendment, the Virginia Supreme Court is not governed by this law.
4. We CAN and WILL do better! If this amendment is defeated, a new constitutional amendment establishing non-partisan redistricting will be introduced in the Virginia Legislature during the upcoming session. To become law the new amendment would have to be passed by two successive sessions of the legislature and then approved by the voters of Virginia.